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Wildfire Smoke: Airlines Issue Travel Advisories For Northeast And Midwest Airports

United Airlines was the first major carrier to have issued a travel advisory due to wildfire smoke, allowing passengers flying in or out of impacted airports to rebook tickets without paying a fare difference. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines followed early afternoon on Thursday.

United’s advisory covers Thursday and Friday flights in and out of 24 airports in the Northeast, in a large area sweeping reaching from Toronto to Norfolk, Virginia and from as far east as Detroit to Providence, Rhode Island. The alert covers tickets purchased on or before Wednesday. Passengers can reschedule their trip without paying change fees and fare differences, but the new flight must be a United flight departing on or before June 13, 2023. Tickets must be in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally booked.

American Airlines’ advisory has been expanded to cover a whopping airports, stretching from South Bend, Indiana, to Bangor, Maine, and from Toronto to Norfolk, Virginia. The carrier is waiving change fees for Thursday and Friday flights purchased on or before Wednesday. Passengers may rebook on a new flight departing by June 13.

Southwest Airlines issued an advisory on Thursday afternoon that covers 21 airports in an area from Albany to Richmond and from Pittsburgh to Manchester, New Hampshire. Passengers can change Thursday and Friday flights at no charge and rebook within 14 days.

Airline alerts are typically based on weather forecasts and can an early sign that the weather somewhere along your itinerary is may cause your trip to be disrupted.

On Wednesday, U.S. Transportation Pete Buttigieg tweeted that “Smoke from Canada’s wildfires is affecting visibility in our airspace and leading to delays. The FAA is fully prepared to modify operations as needed.”

Before noon on Thursday in the New York City area, ground delays at LaGuardia Airport and Newark International Airport were averaging 54 and 34 minutes, respectively. Philadelphia International Airport was issued a ground stop earlier in the morning due to low visibility, but it was later canceled due to low volume.

For travelers, the ability to change travel plans or recoup travel expenses will depend upon the airline, itinerary and, in some cases, whether a travel insurance policy was purchased. Original tickets must have been purchased by a specific date and rebooked within a specific time period.

Canada’s wildfire season runs May to October but this level of destruction early on is rare, and has caused some to worry that the smoke and haze may have an impact all summer long.

Source : Forbes